Note: The Report of the SD61 Committee on Public Engagement is posted on the SD61 website. Have a look at the 14 strictures on asking a question at a Board meeting if you’re a member of the public.
Preamble / Disclaimer
The Record Off The Record is my personal record of and commentary on Board and Standing Committee meetings in School District 61 (Esquimalt, Oak Bay, Victoria, View Royal and a portion of Saanich and Highlands ). Official / approved minutes of Board and Standing Committee meetings are posted on the SD61 website under the “Board of Education” menu (Education Policy Development Committee is posted as “Education Meetings”; Operations Policy and Planning Committee is posted as “Operations Meetings”) generally one month after the meeting.
Reports from In Camera meetings are posted on the Board meeting page as “Section 72 Reports”. “Section 72” refers to Section 72 (3) of the BC the School Act which states “ A board must prepare a record containing a general statement as to the nature of the matters discussed and the general nature of the decisions reached at a meeting from which persons other than trustees or officers of the board, or both, were excluded, and the record must be open for inspection at all reasonable times by any person, who may make copies and extracts on payment of a fee set by the board.” Key word: “general”.
Section 69 of the BC School Act states “if, in the opinion of the board, the public interest so requires, persons other than trustees may be excluded from a meeting.” In effect, “the opinion of the Board” is the opinion of the Chair, as I have no input into development of In Camera agendas, and as far as I know, neither does any other Trustee.
As well as land, legal and personnel matters, and according to the School Act, anything the “Board” wants to put on the In Camera agenda, Trustees may be censured in various ways in In Camera meetings that the public will never know about. It’s possible that by In Camera majority vote, any Trustee in any School District could be forbidden to attend certain meetings, could be required to leave portions of meetings when certain topics are under discussion and thus barred from receiving information, could be pressured to resign, and more.
The public meeting schedule is posted on the District Calendar.
Trustees are referred to by last name only for brevity; “the Board of Education of SD No. 61 (Greater Victoria) is referred to as “the Board [etc]”. No audio recordings are made of Standing Committee meetings, only of Board meetings. (No record of how the audio recording decision was made, or any debate on proposed uses of and storage of the record appears to exist.) Motions are shortened but retain the essential wording.
Clarification: I am not on the GVTA Negotiations Advisory Committee, though that’s what this assignment (by the Chair) chart says. I do not know what the SD61 overall bargaining objectives are, although as a Trustee I am responsible for them (Section 6, Bylaw 9221, Board Administration Relationships). And I still don’t know if the GVTA Negotiations Advisory Committee above is the same thing as the two trustees who sit at the local issues bargaining table with the teacher employee group, or if that is called something else. Two trustees do sit at that table and neither of them is me, since they are Orcherton and Ferris, not Orcherton and me.
The BC School Trustees Association states that “Trustees in some districts participate directly in union negotiations; in other districts the bargaining is left to staff and the board approves the negotiated agreements.”
Trustees in SD61 do not have any part in developing bargaining objectives, although we are publicly responsible for them. Discovering what they are can be surprising. A recent public petition developed by the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association employee group is a case in point. Although they got the name of the Vice-Chair wrong (It’s Horsman, not Ferris), the points made in the petition appear to be completely aligned with Human Rights legislation.